A beautiful man. Slender, like a reed.
A fish, actually, only harder. Not so much
slippery as silver and difficult to spot.
Surfacing now, again, sometimes.
It is only the beginning of such
panderings. Become dagger
of where you begin and I end.
A question of endings over much
time: years; millennia, actually.
Despite inevitable joustings that
flutter you between spaces, therein.
Despite hazel eyes, surrounding:
through, around. Find the hook. Bite.
Or don’t, lest you become fodder for worms.
Down in the soil, only nitrogen, calcium, here.
Best thing, really. The best thing, the only
thing, to point one’s finger toward: alive.
I want to continue; connected, we are.
Strings of yarn woven together, dyed lilac,
seeping through wool, scratching and dragged
over tree trunks, rough branches. Bark pulls.
Pull harder. You crush me, wincing.
It is like that: the inevitable surfacing
of bodies. They float, knocking
pale limbs against the river bank:
tangled, half-submerged, never letting up.
Let up. Become content with angles.
No circles. With less. Expel your expectations.
Erasure. If you so much as breathe. Don’t
move a muscle, lest you scare the
sliver of creature to down, beneath.
The surface of water is hybrid. It is
surface and lack-of-surface, but it must
suffice: mouth, sliver–whatever it is
you may want to find here.
And there, there.
Buds are emerging
Early for Febru-
Ary. Spring flowering.
She stared through women wearing thin shirts
Last week but they may not have
Noticed (just as well)—
Questions of gazing.
If it is only
Spring blossoming in
The world, the plum tree
Will not need harvesters to pluck
The ripe fruit from the branches.
Lake and fountain and
Water and plumbing.
(As I was saying)
Besides the questions of
Gender, a woman writes
Conjunctions, commas, and adjectives
Describing how she may feel
A shudder caress
Her—as would a noun—
When a strange woman
Approaches her at Night
Café, smiles, says, “I real-
Ly love your hair like that,” referring
To her bob. She may blush
Her neck hot and craning
Toward her shoes.
The green spears shoot up
From under wet earth.
Mornings, the robin hops
From tree limb to ground, waits, listening
For percolation of life
Fecundity of spring
A naked worm.
What is my landscape? Hells Canyon. Drive from Riggins to Grangeville: on Highway 95, you’ll see skid marks from rigs flying off the road into the river. No guard rail. Just the Salmon River & the rare pull-off where mounds of dirt sit & wait for men to shoot into them. Or the dark clear of a summer river rushing, blue on some days, color of ore & onyx on others—color of river bottom. Untouched glass, stained grey.
There, where no one will save you, you will find my poems lying stretched on the side of the road or hiding in ditches with deer, watching rigs fly on past. There, in the already warm summer morning near Riggins, Idaho, you’ll find my words lost in river roar & the thunder of semi-trucks rounding curves of the two-lane highway.
One poem is a fawn wandering into the road, frail & unsteady on skinny, flecked legs still damp from birthing. Another is a doe’s tongue licking rough over trembling back & tail. One is a buck watching, strong, from the edges. And one is a semi barreling around curves at high speed, ready to swerve into the river, not minding what it totals in its path.
So find your best vantage-ground. Ready yourself for whatever comes toward you now. There may be no collision to record or accident to report, no blood to wipe from the road.
Since 2012, Daphne Elizabeth Stanford has hosted “The Poetry Show!” on KRBX/Radio Boise. She holds a BA in English from Reed College and an MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Oregon. Her work is published or forthcoming in Caesura, Lingerpost Press, The Monarch Review, The Cabin: Writers in the Attic, Cliterature: All My Relations, Willawaw Journal, and Reservoir.